Helping Out the North Carolina State Auditor

December 14, 2015

Helping Out the North Carolina State Auditor. North Carolina has a unique law that requires any teachers association to have 40,000 members statewide in order to qualify for payroll deduction of dues. What it lacks, apparently, is any enforcement mechanism, or even any way to determine if an organization meets the threshold.

NEA’s affiliate in the state, the North Carolina Association of Educators, is the only association that has ever had more than 40,000 members, but efforts to determine NCAE’s current numbers have consisted entirely of a) asking them; and b) checking their web site.

The union’s web site claims the total membership is “approximately 70,000.” This is about as accurate as saying Charlotte is approximately in the Atlantic Ocean.

NCAE refuses to divulge its membership numbers – not to the Associated Press and not to the State Auditor, who ostensibly is charged with seeing that the law’s provisions are carried out.

NCAE’s reluctance is understandable, since the union almost certainly has fewer than 40,000 members. NCAE may not have to report accurate numbers to the state government, but it has a great incentive to do so to NEA. If NCAE inflates its membership numbers when reporting internally, NEA will expect to receive dues money corresponding to that number.

The numbers reported by each state affiliate are compiled and published in NEA’s financial reports, which are distributed exclusively to the delegates to the union’s representative assembly each year and are not available to the press or public. By that time, the numbers are a year old.

NEAFinancialReports2015

The back of the report contains membership numbers for each affiliate. Here are NCAE’s for 2013-14:

NCAE2013-14

At the end of the 2014 school year, NCAE had 39,448 members, having lost 3,727 members from the previous year.

But there is good reason to believe the numbers are even lower than that. The New Jersey Education Association, in an effort to persuade delegates to oppose a constitutional amendment concerning representation in merged affiliates, requested current membership numbers from NEA in February 2015. Here are the numbers they distributed:

NEAmembership201502

The handout shows NCAE at 37,770. These numbers, however, have to be considered unofficial because even though they came from NEA headquarters, when added up they show the national union with 110,000 more members than they actually had at the time. It’s impossible to say where the error lies, but it suggests that the numbers listed here for NCAE are either entirely accurate, or might even be too high.

It’s within the realm of possibility that NCAE had an unprecedented recruitment year and pushed its numbers back over 40,000, but the available evidence and trends suggest quite the opposite.

If all this is still unconvincing, well, we can always appeal to the IRS. NCAE’s dues income for 2012-13 was $6,853,344.

NCAEIRS9902012-13

And its dues income for 2013-14 was $5,899,139.

NCAEIRS9902013-14

That’s nearly a 14 percent loss of dues revenue in a single year, and equates to the full dues of 4,000 teachers.

If the Auditor’s report is accurate, about one-third of NCAE’s active members use payroll deduction. NCAE would have to persuade each of them to authorize individual electronic fund transfers or get them to write checks. It is obvious NCAE wants to avoid that task. The state is not obligated to assist.

Recent Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics December 8-14:

*  Georgia AFT President Compares School Choice to Murder. There would be more outrage if anyone cared what she thought.

*  And Now The Screaming Starts. Who is best situated to take advantage of ESSA?

*  Teamsters Forced to Give Up Exclusivity in Rapid City School District. “Lack of supportive membership.”

*  Future of Teacher Labor Force Not Unique. We’re all getting older, thank heaven.

Quote of the Week. “I was inclined to call on her to resign immediately until I realized that might put her back in a classroom, which would be worse. It’s better if she’s just allowed to rant and not teach children.” – Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of Hispanic CREO (Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options), speaking about Georgia Federation of Teachers president Verdaillia Turner and her comments comparing school choice to murder. (December 11 Hispanic CREO press release)